In many ways it looks like a typical school building – the non-descript tan brick exterior, the packed parking lot and the flagpole with the American and Georgia state flags thrashing in the wind out front. The majestic arched fence topped by a mass of coiled barbed wire is the first tipoff. And the fact that you have to step inside and a guard must view you on a surveillance camera, before buzzing you into the fenced-in walkway confirms it. Clearly this isn’t your average schoolhouse. Welcome to the Metro Atlanta Regional Youth Detention Center, a 200-bed facility (maximum capacity of 150 boys and 50 girls) where Georgia youth who are in trouble with the law live and learn while they navigate the criminal justice system. On this day, the population is down, 132 students are onsite.
Department of Juvenile Justice School System leaders are recovering from a major disappointment, but also celebrating other victories while working toward maintaining the system’s academic standing. First the bad news: The school system did not get any of the Race To The Top grant money received by 26 other school systems in the state. Last month Governor Sonny Perdue announced that Georgia was selected as a winner by the U.S. Department of Education for the second round of the grants. Georgia is projected to receive $400 million over four years to implement its plan to create conditions for education innovation and reform. The fund is a $4 billion grant opportunity provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to support new approaches to improve schools.